July 27th, 2015

A Reluctant e-Reader

Breakfast with a tabletI love technology. If there’s a gadget, I want it. Despite that, it took me a long time to warm up to the idea of reading a book on a device. I was too attached to the idea of feeling the rustle of pages under my fingers, of flipping to the end to see what happens, of smelling that old book smell.

A few different things motivated me to make the switch. The first was George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. The most recent book in the series, A Dance with Dragons, is 1,152 pages long, and it is no exaggeration to say that I had to be careful how I read that book, lest the sheer weight of it hurt my hands. At that point, I thought, reading on a tablet might just help my health! Also, reading on a device allows me to use the Fictionary, which is an e-book dictionary that keeps track of fictional characters and places. When I just can’t remember who that minor character is, I can tap the name, and the Fictionary will remind me. The Fictionary is not available for all books, but there are several options available for fantasy, science fiction, young adult, and classic novels.

One of my favorite things about reading on my tablet is its ability to customize. Want to read white text on a black screen, as I often do at night? Fine! Need a bigger font or more space between the lines? Easy! The app for OverDrive, which the library uses to provide eBooks and e-audiobooks, even includes the OpenDyslexic font, which is designed to make reading easier for people who have dyslexia. (To learn more about the OpenDyslexic font, and to see how to change your font in OverDrive, check out their blog post.)

Have you ever finished your book and realized that you can’t get another because the library is closed? With digital devices, the library is never closed. You can find a book on OverDrive or OneClickDigital and be reading again in seconds. You can also download a magazine from Zinio or an audiobook from Hoopla—no lines, no fines. I’ve found that audiobooks are not just for my commute. I listen to them while I’m weeding my garden, while I’m doing dishes, or while I’m putting away laundry. My audiobooks make mindless tasks a little less boring.

At this time of year, digital devices are perfect for vacations. I used to need a separate bag for all the books I wanted to bring for a trip. When I went on vacation with my family last month, I took a few minutes before we left to download some books onto my tablet, and then I was ready to go. I’d also downloaded a movie or two from Hoopla, in case my daughter got bored during the drive.

Don’t worry—I haven’t gone completely to the Dark Side. I still love my paper books, especially for cooking and crafts. Now that I’ve started using reading, listening, and watching on my tablet, though, I have to admit that I wish I had started all this just a little sooner. Check out what you can put on your device on our devices and downloads page, or ask at your favorite branch.

 


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July 20th, 2015

Heroes

everyday-heroes-signWith this year’s Summer Reading theme of “Every Hero Has a Story,” we will take time to reflect on what a hero is. The concept of a hero is an ever-changing one in our society. For small children, the only reference point of hero is what they see on television and in video games such as Spiderman and Batman. For elderly adults, it may be the person who takes them to the store or spends time with them.

Teenagers, however, may find it harder to identify a hero as they are in the middle-ground between childhood and adulthood. There are many gray areas— what can you do, what can’t you do, what do you believe in, what don’t you believe in, who are your friends, where do you belong—so many questions! All of these uncertainties make it difficult to define a hero.

Teenagers lose their sense of awe in the extraordinary. They may find it hard to suspend reality and view their childhood “heroes” in that capacity any longer. In addition, they are too cool to think of a parent or community helper, such as a police officer, as a hero. Often, teens will look at other outside sources for motivation and hero-worship. You may ask your teen who their hero is and often be answered with the latest music artist or sports personality. In some respects, this may be a viable hero. In others, maybe not so much!

As we take time to reflect on what a hero is to each of us, we note that heroes can take on many different shapes, sizes, and incarnations. Children, teens, and adults can find plenty of inspiration at the library. We have books, movies, and programs that provide access to traditional “super” heroes as well as other non-traditional heroes such as animal search and rescue heroes, military heroes, and everyday heroes who have overcome extreme obstacles.

Perryville Branch Library is hosting a teen program on Thursday, July 23rd at 3 PM called “Heroes Among Us”. Teens will be asked what the word “hero” means to them and challenged to identify a hero of their own. Teens will participate in games and activities to explore heroism and discuss ways that real-life heroes differ from heroes we see in books, movies, and comics.

So think about it….who is YOUR everyday hero?


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